It was a gift for his syphilis treatment. Mantuan court painter Lorenzo Costa painted his doctor Battista Fiera as payment for bringing him back to good health. Like the image of Doctor Girolamo Fracastoro, newly attributed to Titian when it was found in the bowels of the National Gallery, Fiera looks a fiercely intelligent figure. And in recognition of his scientific sobriety, he’s also been painted warts-and-all.
Many doctors were painted with that same realism and empiricism in Renaissance Italy – as if a portrait of a doctor should be clinically exact. Lorenzo Lotto‘s image of a physician from Bergamo has a moving, lifelike immediacy: Giovanni Agostino della Torre poses with medical books, a man of learning and authority. Later, the artist added the doctor’s son Niccolò, who peers over his father’s shoulder comically.
Artists and doctors were of similar social standing: